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A Middle East tour by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has confirmed to democracy activists in the Middle East what they had long suspected–the United States has lost interest in democracy for Arabs. By promising to protect friendly rulers in the region against what many analysts see as exaggerated external threats, Rice sent a message that Washington will not ask many questions about how they suppress more real internal threats, they said.
I wrote about the administration’s failed “democracy” initiative in the Middle East last March. I focused on Egypt, where the U.S. supports the Mubarak regime–which has ruled for decades without ever holding fair elections and routinely employs violence against its opponents–and ostracizes the Muslim Brotherhood–which renounced violence decades ago, espouses democracy, and calls for anti-corruption initiatives and political reform. In fact, the Bush administration started backing off of its pro-democracy rhetoric after the Brotherhood scored big gains in parliamentary elections, despite massive cheating by the Egyptian government.
Since I was in Egypt last fall, the Mubarak regime has launched a massive crackdown on the Brotherhood. Meanwhile, parliament (where the ruling party has a rubber stamp majority) passed a series of amendment that “further solidified the legal underpinnings of authoritarianism in Egypt,” according to a recent article in Middle East Report Online by Samer Shehata and Joshua Stacher.
There’s little coverage of Egypt (far more pivotal to Middle Eastern politics than Iraq over the long run) in the American media. For those wanting to know what’s happening there, check out the story by Shehata and Stacher.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”